Swollen Leg Average Cost

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Average Cost

$4,000

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What is Swollen Leg?

Swollen leg in horses, or filling, is a condition that is a result of one or more legs becoming swollen, due to a variety of causes. Some causes for this condition may be minor and some may be more serious. Swelling of the leg, or legs, in horses may be present in one single leg, only the hind legs, or in all four. Typically, swollen legs occur in the hind legs, and in addition to being called filling, this condition may be also known as stocking up and is quite common.

Since the legs are in the lower part of the body of the horse, as a result of gravity, fluid can build up due to the storing of fluid from blood vessels and within the tissue. This is known as edema, and can occur from issues such as a cut or scratch, to more serious issues such as cellulitis or lymphangitis. Either way, it is important to have a veterinarian take a closer look if your horse has one or more swollen legs.

Cellulitis and lymphangitis are much more serious problems that can be affecting your horse’s legs. Cellulitis is an inflammation of the skin and the soft tissues directly underneath. Lymphangitis develops when the inflammation spreads to deeper tissues and vessels that move lymph through the body. Both are caused by bacterial infections that enter your horse’s skin through an open wound or scratch, and both require prompt veterinary care.

Swollen leg or legs in horses is the result of a build-up of fluid, called edema, in the lower limbs of horses. This can be the result of several different factors, and cases may range from mild to severe.

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Symptoms of Swollen Leg in Horses

Symptoms horses may have due to this condition are typically observed by the owner. Symptoms of swelling of the legs may include:

  • Swollen leg joint in one leg
  • Swollen leg joints in more than one leg
  • Painful limbs
  • Trauma to the limbs
  • Cuts or scratches on the lower legs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Legs are warm to the touch
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty walking
  • Lameness

Types

There are several types of swelling in horses, and other types of swelling can occur in different bodily areas. Types of swelling can include:

  • Cellulitis
  • Lymphangitis
  • Edema
  • Suspensory Injuries
  • Windgall
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Arthritis

Causes of Swollen Leg in Horses

If your horse’s leg or legs are swollen, there could be several causes. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the precise cause of the swelling. Causes can include:

  • Stall confinement after exercise
  • Not enough exercise
  • Excessive protein in diet
  • Bruising
  • Skin overexposure to moisture
  • Overfeeding
  • Obesity
  • Trauma
  • Infection
  • Insect bite
  • Scrapes
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Inflammation of the tissue
  • Allergic reaction
  • Inflammation of vessels

Diagnosis of Swollen Leg in Horses

To begin the diagnostic process, your veterinarian will ask you several questions about your horse’s overall health, his symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, how long they have lasted, and if he has a history of stocking up. 

Once he gets the information from you that he needs, the veterinarian will perform a physical examination on your horse. He will assess the legs and joints, perform blood work and any other laboratory testing he feels is necessary in order to check for any underlying conditions that may be the cause. This is very important, because some horses have swollen legs from the lifestyle they live or from a more serious condition.

He will also check the blood protein, as low blood protein can make the legs swell. He may also check your horse’s temperature, and may choose to do imaging techniques to look at the insides of his legs. Your horse may be suffering from a vascular condition, a bacterial infection, an allergic reaction, or a viral infection. The medical professional may choose to perform an ultrasound or withdraw fluid from his legs to test. In cases of suspected lymphangitis and cellulitis the veterinarian would need to check the fluid and do complete laboratory testing. The medical professional may also need to come to a diagnosis by utilizing impression smears and bacterial cultures.

Your veterinarian will also want to check to see when the last time your horse had a tetanus shot, in cases of scratches or more serious open wounds. Your veterinarian will also communicate with you if he feels this is a mild case of stocking up, or you as a horse owner may suspect the same and just want to be sure nothing further is wrong.

Treatment of Swollen Leg in Horses

For mild cases of stocking up, your veterinarian may recommend a more regular turn-out, massaging the legs with oil or liniment, bandaging, or wearing a leg brace. Other treatment methods may include:

Cold Water

Hosing your horse’s legs with cold water or alternating ice compresses with heat may help ease the swelling. This is typically recommended for horses with mild to moderate cases of stocking up.

Treating Abscesses

Your veterinarian may want to drain any abscess your horse may have in his lower legs. Abscesses or infections can occur from scratches, bites, or other trauma to the legs. Once your veterinarian has drained the abscess, he will thoroughly cleanse the affected leg area with a recommended antiseptic.

Antibiotics

In cases of cellulitis or lymphangitis, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. He may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications for any pain and swelling. He will also recommend regular massage in order to stimulate the circulation and in addition, possibly a medicated poultice.

Recovery of Swollen Leg in Horses

Recovery prognosis is good if your horse has been properly treated. This, of course, depends on the precise cause of the swollen legs. If your horse is suffering from cellulitis or lymphangitis, his recovery will depend on the effectiveness of the medication given and the severity of the infection. These infections can take several weeks to heal, so it is important to be patient in your horse’s healing process.

After treatment, or while you are continuing treatment at home, your veterinarian will explain what you need to do to help him recover. There are things he may recommend you continue doing to prevent swollen legs from happening In the future. Maintaining a healthy weight, good nutrition, a fresh, clean stall, exercise on a regular basis, dry legs that are kept clean, and prompt attention to any scratches or bites can help minimize the risk of your horse contracting this condition.

Your veterinarian will want to see your horse regularly for check-ups, and will give you any further advice on what you can do to help him get well again.

Swollen Leg Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

jess
Thoroughbred
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

warm and sore to touch

hi there is was wondering if you could help me out. i have a horse that has 3 swollen legs that are very sore and warm to touch. his legs have been swollen for 2 days and i have tried poultice, wrapping and they do not seem to do the trick and i am unable to cold hose as it is raining were i am.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations

Swelling of the limbs may be caused by a few different conditions including stocking up, lack of exercise, cellulitis, lymphangitis, cuts to the limbs or severe infections. It is always best to have your Veterinarian check over your horse as some conditions may require treatment with antibiotics or anti inflammatory drugs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

hello, my horse has swollen hocks, treatment with antibiotics is not effective, can you point me to the cause and treatment can be more effective?

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Fancy
Quarter
10 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen Joints

I have a 10 y/o mare that has scraped her leg on the fence about 1 month ago. We've doctored it and it's healed/ scabbed over. But now where it's scabbed over the scrape is causeing the leg to swell and become warm and tender to the touch. I need any advice you can give me please.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
Swelling of the leg in horses isn’t uncommon after a wound or scrape which may be due to secondary infection, inflammation or other causes; treatment would be centered around the underlying cause so antibiotics, anti inflammatories or other medications related to the underlying cause. Without examining Fancy I cannot say what the underlying cause is, so a discussion with your Veterinarian would be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/horse/condition/cellulitis

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Portia
Paint
7 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

She hasn't shown any other symptoms and we found that she had a pretty severe swelling in the hind right leg when she was getting her hooves done by the farrier. She has no trouble walking and it's not warm to the touch. It's hard to notice that a canon bone is there if your looking at it

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
General swelling around the cannon bone (not splints) would be attributable to something like periostitis but we would expect to see pain and lameness if this is the case; also rupture of tendons and windgalls etc… would all display symptoms differently. I would put Porita on restricted exercise and look for signs of improvement, if you don’t see any improvement call your Veterinarian out for a visit. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My horse has had stocking up problems in the past but I came out this morning and his back left leg is swollen up as well as part of his groin. We have seen this before and have had vet treatment for it but usually he has a cut. This time there is nothing that had caused the inflammation.. should I call a vet out or should I just be fine with cold hosing. He is a 25 year old TB

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Star
Quarter
19 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling

Medication Used

NFZ, Furison

Again my horse has seen 3 vets but no progress and its been like this for 3 years and i want her to be happy its swollen yet she can walk She is 19 and is not in pane as i can tell but what should i do or what is it...

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1550 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm not able to give you more insight without seeing Star, through an email. if you have had 3 veterinarians look at him with no resolution, it might be a good idea to consult a specialist. I hope that everything goes well for him.

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Star
Quarter Horse
19 Years
Serious condition
-1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling and abscess and lameness

My horse, Star has a swollen leg. It has been like this since October 2016... I don't know what happened we have, hosed, drained, wrapped,sweated, and exercised... But a abscess popped and we treated it, it has gotten better but not yet.. any tips?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1550 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If this has been going on for over a year, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her, get an idea as to what might be going on, and treat her for it. She may need oral medications. I hope that she does well.

we've been given the chance at surgery but star has to much meds built up in her stomach she can't take more if you have instagram i can send you a picture of it

We have had 3 diff vets but none could figure whats going on but my 3rd vet is working on it but is stuck

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Flynn
Thoroughbred
9 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling

My horse had a minor bout of cellulitis recently in his hind legs and was treated aggressively with cold water therapy, antibiotics and bute - which has reduce basically all of the swelling. However I am finding that when I bring him out of the paddock, his hind legs are still slightly swollen around the fetlocks. The swelling disappears, however, after exercise - only to reappear when I come out the next morning. He is not bothered by it, there is typically vet slightly to no heat and he is not lame at all. What would you recommend I do to get rid of the swelling, if possible?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1550 Recommendations
I worry that the swelling is related to his recent infection, any he may need further treatment related to that. Since I cannot examine him or see what is going on, I have a hard time commenting on how to treat him, but since your veterinarian has recently seen him and knows more about his physical condition, it would be reasonable to call them, describe what is happening, and see if they have any suggestions on what might help.

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Drifter
Quarter Horse
10 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Hi my horse has swelling on all four of her legs,no heat and no lameness involved.This is the second day they have been swollen,I've been putting Epsom salt poltice and giving her bute,but it doesn't seem to be helping. It's to cold to hose her legs right now. Thanks for you help:)

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
Horses may have swollen legs for a variety of reasons, if there is no signs of lameness or heat in the legs the causes may be due to poor venous return or pooling of lymph especially if Drifter is currently stalled and not exercised. If you haven’t got Drifter on stall rest or he is getting regular exercise you should call your Veterinarian out for an examination to check him over. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

I have a 4 year old thouroughbred he had a kick to the upper back leg which resulted in a Nasty cut he has no swelling or heat after the injury and has began to close nicely now a weeks and a half later his leg has swollen below the cut all the way down his lower leg I can’t feel any heat and was wondering whether you thought it was connected to the injury? And what to do about it

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sheru
dasi
14 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen Joints

HELLO
I have a horse and I really really Love my Horse now a days there are a swollen in front leg and I'm belong to very backward area in pakistan no veterinary here so what will i do for my horse please help me out.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
Without examining Sheru it is very difficult if not impossible to determine the cause and a treatment; especially since you haven’t indicated which joint or area is affected; trauma, other injuries, allergies, insect bites, infections, lymphatic disorders among other causes may lead to swelling. You should call out a Veterinarian regardless of your feelings towards local Veterinarians. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Harley
Quarter Horse
1 Day
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen hock

I woke up this morning to my horse's hock being swollen. After further examination I noticed a minor, or what appears to be minor, cut or scrape on the inside leg below the hock. The swollen area is warm to the touch and seems slightly painful if pressed. The horse is slightly lame. Today is a holiday so consulting with a vet will have to wait until tomorrow unless you feel it's critical. I have Butte and plan to give her some along with hosing the leg in cold water. The wound is not deep and from its appearance, I would normally leave it alone and let it heal. What do you recommend?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1550 Recommendations
Without seeing Harley, I cannot determine how bad the wound is, but from your description it seems that it can wait until Tuesday to be seen. Tomorrow, your veterinarian can examine him, see what is going on, and give him any medications that he may need.

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castello
Thoroughbred
8 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

swollen legs

Medication Used

uniprim

My gelding got kicked in the sheath about a week and a half ago. He was immediately placed on antibiotics and bute. His wound was cleaned 2x daily the first 5 days, and then 1x daily after that. After he finished his course of bute, all four legs began to swell. It wasn’t soft and fluid, more so like clay (palpable, but not necessarily hard). The swelling subsides about 80% after excersise but I havent been able to get rid of the swelling 100%. I even put ice boots on. The vet says its just stocking up, which this horse is prone to, but at this extent it seems a bit extreme as his limbs look like tree trunks. They swell to the hocks and knees.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
My immediate thought as I started to read your question is that the cause is due to stocking up, especially with improvement after exercise. There are many causes for swollen legs which may follow infections, trauma, lack of exercise, allergies among other causes; I would follow your Veterinarian’s guidance on this as stocking up seems the most likely cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Gunner
Thoroughbred
8 Years
Mild condition
-1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

swollen fetlock

I have a x race horse thoroughbred and i was riding him he didn't have pads on his feet but will be getting some Monday he tripped and i got off immediately and found a thorn in his heel bulbs and pulled it out and his leg is super swollen and he wont put any pressure on it he will "hop" around and i have him in a stall PLEASE HELP

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1550 Recommendations
Anissa, thank you for contacting us about Gunner. He needs to see his veterinarian before his leg becomes more infected or inflamed. Unfortunately I cannot help him via chat - he does need to see his veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Tricksy
Quarter
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling

I have a 3 year old grey mare. I first got her she wasn't broke. I broke her and started riding her the first time riding her after a while her back left leg started to swell her the bottom. I soaked it in water and Ebsen salt and it went down. Took her on another ride and came back and the back right leg was swollen. What is causing the swelling

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
It is difficult to say what specifically is causing the swelling especially as only one leg is affected and you’ve not mentioned any signs of lameness; there could be cellulitis, a superficial flexor tendon injury or something else. I would recommend calling your Veterinarian out to examine Tricksy and possibly have an ultrasound of the tendons to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Copper
Thoroughbred
4 1/2 years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling

I have a 4 year old thouroughbred he had a kick to the upper back leg which resulted in a Nasty cut he has had no swelling or heat after the injury and it has began to close nicely now a week and a half later his leg has swollen below the cut all the way down his lower leg I can’t feel any heat and was wondering whether you thought it was connected to the injury? And what to do about it tia

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3232 Recommendations
A horse’s leg may swell up at anytime after a cut or injury in response to infection (cellulitis), it is important that the cut is managed properly to prevent infection; however, if the leg has swollen you should speak with your Veterinarian about some systemic antibiotics to help overall healing. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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